Get The Look Of Highlights Without Any Bleach


Any virgins in the house tonight? Hair color virgins, that is, with shiny soft hair the exact color at the tips it is at the roots. Maybe the thought of actually doing it (coloring your hair) gives you nervous butterflies, so you’ve just put it off. It’s A) expensive B) time-consuming C) can change the texture of your hair and D) you still might end up hating it. If only there was a way to change up your hair color without damaging or having to maintain it! It sounds like a pipe dream, but Tiktok may have a solution: faux highlights. No, they don’t involve clip-in extensions. Or bleach, for that matter! It all starts with a gloss.

Unlike most concoctions a hairstylist might mix up at the back bar, glosses come in peace. They’re non-damaging, safe for every hair pattern, and only semi-permanent, lasting about 20 shampoos before hair fades back to its original shade. They leave no line of demarcation (like you’d see with traditional dye) or obvious root situation as your hair grows out. And glosses don’t require any maintenance—if you decide your color is not something you want to continue with, it’s as easy as not making an appointment for a touch up to deal with. The caveat is, since glosses don’t contain any bleach, you just can’t use them to go lighter.

At Anthony Cristiano salon in Chicago, colorist and natural redhead Lauren Ashley doles out lots of glosses. But to add more dimension, sometimes she pairs them with a “faux highlight” process, which her client, model Madeline Ford, recently documented on her channel.

Ashley starts the exact same way she would when painting on regular highlights, weaving a comb through her clients’ hair to pick out and separate the pieces she’d like to be lighter. The big trick is that, instead of painting on bleach, she coats the “highlights” in a rich conditioner and tucks them up safe and sound in foil. On the rest of the hair, she’ll apply a gloss slightly deeper or more saturated than the hair’s natural tone. And when she rinses everything out, the natural toned pieces in the front appear like lighter highlights, while the rest of the hair looks more shiny and richly hued.

Since glosses are so gentle, you can even attempt a version of this at home, without having to worry about a majorly botched DIY color job. And when sunny nights and hot weather loop back around, your fall/winter hue will be long faded. If you’ve never experimented with hair color before, now’s the perfect time to start.

Photo via ITG